Understanding the menopause and how it can weaken your pelvic floor

Most people know that the menopause is the time in a woman’s life when her menstrual cycle ceases, and she becomes infertile. The average age for this to happen is between 45 and 55, and it is often confirmed medically when no menstrual bleeding has occurred for at least one year.

Symptoms of menopause

The menopause rarely happens suddenly; for the vast majority of women it can be felt to be on its way for months or even years before menstruation stops altogether. Periods become more irregular, they may be lighter or heavier, longer or shorter in duration, and the time between them can alter as well. Another very common symptom is experiencing hot flushes, when sweating and reddening of the skin can occur out of the blue, along with shivering and even light-headed spells. These hot flushes can last from just a few seconds up to a few minutes, and usually stop after one or two years. Other symptoms associated with the menopause are sleeping issues, vaginal dryness and itchiness, and mood disturbances. Other health problems that may arise are osteoporosis, where the bones can become softer and more brittle, and changes in blood lipids, or fats, that may require medication.

Hormones

These symptoms are caused by alterations in the female sex hormones – hormones that can have very profound effects on the body and mind. These hormones are responsible for the workings and maintenance of the female reproductive organs and their associated tissues. When hormone levels drop, these tissues are affected and become weaker. The weakening of the tissues and muscles around the uterus and pelvis can leave you at an elevated risk of vaginal prolapse. If you have any discomfort in the area, or are experiencing any of the other symptoms detailed on the Pelvic Clinic website, you should arrange an assessment.

Maintaining a healthy pelvic floor

The best way to maintain a healthy pelvic floor post-menopause is to get regular moderate exercise, such as walking. Exercises can also be performed to more directly target the muscles in question. These include Kegel exercises and the plank. Performing these exercises regularly, whether you have symptoms of prolapse or not, can help you maintain good health and prevent any problems occurring in the future. If you have any concerns, you can always seek the opinion of a specialist such as Mr Broome who will be able to advise you.

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